South Africa’s workplace is extremely racist, charges NUMSA

By Staff Reporter

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa says when workers demonstrate they should be allowed to sing revolutionary songs which they identify with because racism has not yet been defeated in that country’s workplace.

Reacting to the South African Constitutional Court’s ruling in which it found in favour of workers who were dismissed by a company called Duncanmec for singing a struggle song during a strike in April 2013, NUMSA general secretary Irvin Jim, stated in a press release that had the court found in favour of Duncanmec it would be like slave masters determining how the slaves should protest.

“This victory belongs to all workers. It would have been bad if the Constitutional Court had found in favour of Duncanmec. It would be like the slave masters determining how the slaves should protest. When workers demonstrate, they should be allowed to sing revolutionary songs which they identify with, because racism has not yet been defeated in the workplace,” Jim stated. “The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) welcomes the victory at the Constitutional court today. The court found against an abusive company called Duncanmec which unfairly dismissed nine of our members for singing a struggle song during a strike in April 2013. The song was “uMama uyajabula mangishaya ibhunu.” Which means my mother rejoices when I beat the Boer. Duncanmec gave the nine workers a final written warning for embarking on an illegal strike, and, dismissed them for misconduct for singing a ‘racist’ song.”

This matter, according to NUMSA, was heard by an arbitrator of the Metals and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council (MEIBC) and “he found in favour of our members and ordered their immediate reinstatement. However, Duncanmec was not satisfied. They appealed and lost at the Labour court, and their attempt to appeal at the Labour Appeals Court was denied because there was no prospect for success. They then took this case to the Constitutional court where they were again defeated.”

Jim noted that the decision of the Constitutional Court was a confirmation that the struggle song was not racist and that it was not hate speech.

“It upheld the decision of the Arbitrator at the Bargaining Council for our members to be immediately re-instated, and for them to receive their back pay from when they were unfairly dismissed in April 2013,” observed Jim. “Furthermore, we reject the notion that struggle songs are racist. The workplace in South Africa is extremely racist and untransformed. The working class continues to sing these songs today because it is not free and they are still fighting for justice and equality in the workplace which was promised to them, during the battle against the racist Apartheid system.”